June 14th, 2004

Last week in Charlotte

So, after 2.5 years, I'm finally on my last week working in Charlotte. Starting next Monday, I'll be in Oak Brook for 4 weeks (for those of you who aren't Chicagoans, that's a western suburb of Chicago). Unlike Charlotte, there's actually fun stuff to do in Chicago in the evenings. I'm hoping to start with the Perpetual Motion Roadshow on the 21st at Quimby's (which will supposedly include a reading by nihilistic_kid).

After Chicago, it looks like I'll be going to San Francisco (or, more precisely, Foster City, which I gather is just south of SF itself) for a couple months. I've only ever been to SF for two one-day trips which left no time for sightseeing, so I'm looking forward to the chance to actually see more than boring corporate campuses.

It seems like I haven't been getting a lot of reading done lately. At novel length, I read Neal Asher's Gridlinked. Humanity has spread throughout the galaxy, aided by the nearly instantaneous travel afforded by runcibles, and ruled by the benevolent dictatorship of the powerful AI, Earth Central. While most of the galaxy exists in what seems to be utopian bliss, less populated worlds harbor rebels who want to overturn the existing order. When a runcible malfunctions and blows up, taking out pretty much everybody living on the planet with it, Earth Central dispatches its best investigator to track down the culprits. Overall, it's a really nifty setting with a good fast-moving plot that's only let down by an ending in which one of the two major subplots turns out to have been little more than a distraction. I'll definitely be reading the subsequent novels set in the same universe.

I also read Asimov's I, Robot (thankfully with a pre-movie-tie-in cover), because I realized I hadn't ever read it, and I figured I better do so before my brain is contaminated with what I'm sure will be a terrible film plot. The stories hold up surprisingly well (though it is amusing that Asimov has the amazing positronic brains, but completely misses the development of pervasive cheap non-intelligent computers).

At shorter lengths, I've read most of the stories published at SciFiction's this year. The stand-out by far is Christopher Rowe's "The Voluntary State". A truly fabulous story, about which I won't say anything else since it'd be more or less impossible to do so without spoiling it in some way. (I happened to read this immediately after finishing Gridlinked; they make for an interesting contrast).

I also made my way through the current issue of Agni (#59). I particularly enjoyed Vivek Narayanan's "My Father, the Perfect Man", though more for the exoticism of the Indian funeral rituals that are its central element than for its plot. The best story in the issue, however, is Chris Abouzeid's "The Silence of the Iambs", a delightful humorous fantasy about the lives of hard-working words.

Other than reading, I've played a bit of FarCry (an extremely pretty game, but the lack of save-anywhere sucks and led to my becoming bored fairly rapidly), I watched the third season DVD's of Frasier (an oddly addictive show when watched without commercial interruptions to break up the flow), and I've spent entirely too much time doing crosswords from this book and this one.